On the road to culture

June 30, 2008
By

jacket imageYet another positive review of Erin Hogan’s Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West appeared in last Saturday’s Chicago Tribune. Spiral Jetta is part travel essay and part art critique, but it’s the former that Tribune reviewer Ann Fabian focuses on. With her own daughter getting ready to head to Marfa, Texas, “to seek her fortune as an intern at the late Donald Judd’s minimalist art mecca,” Fabian found the autobiographical side of Hogan’s book most useful:

Marfa was one of the sites that lured Erin Hogan out of Chicago and off on her auto pilgrimage to the big art of the West. It seems to draw folks (like Hogan and my daughter) worn down by city life. I had to read the book.…
We learn about Hogan. She has been working in Chicago too long. She needs to get out of town. She needs to learn to be alone. She heads west in her trusty Volkswagen Jetta, crosses the plains and lands in Utah. She spends the next week looking for art there and in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.… She talks to men in a bar, loses her wallet under a chair in a hotel lobby, pitches a tent in a windstorm, visits a roadside attraction, drinks beer with some guys and drives her Jetta on rutty dirt roads.…
Hogan’s trip is more like what would happen to most of us if we drove around the West to look at art. Motels would be ordinary. Bar food would be lousy. But nothing awful would happen. We might take some notes and write them up. Someone like me might read them and reassure a daughter heading to Marfa that Donald Judd’s polished aluminum boxes do not disappoint.

Check out the full review online at the Chicago Tribune website. Also read an excerpt from the book and an interview with the author.

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